A masterful start: the first steps of launching a digital product to market

The current realities of change and turbulence have transformed strategies. For ambitious business leaders creating digital products and services is a business growth point. What steps to take to get the first customers when you have already proved that a product or service is needed, tells Yurii Kachkarda CEO Skykillers.

And how not to forget about a customer in the pursuit of technology.

We will not go deep into the specifics of the platform (mobile application, plugin, or web service), we will not talk about methodologies. We will talk about marketing and communication.

Hygienic level or zero point

Before selling to customers, you need to sell the product to the stakeholders of your company. Of course, it is important to do it on the prototyping stage or idea stage. But if your product has been launched and some of your employees were not involved or even do not know about its existence (yes, it happened in our practice :)), it is necessary to go back and prepare a presentation for your team.

You need to remember that there’s a possibility you won't be understood for the first time. Try to do the next:

  • Make it as easy as possible;
  • Engage employees in the process of getting the product out or some other work;
  • Invite outside experts. Create for your team real-time presentation. Show a demonstration and how everything works. Let them use the product. 

Imagine that your colleagues are your clients. This means that in the demonstration you should show the value that your customers will receive. Form is important, but content sells.

Developing a go-to-market strategy

Over the past 10 years, I haven't met a team that could independently close all of the tasks to launch a new product. There is always a bottleneck with people and expertise. I advise bringing in outsource teams, agencies, and consultants to develop such a strategy. The best strategies are always created together, so it is important to have a hybrid team of internal and external specialists.

The basic principle in developing strategy is together, not instead. It should not be outsourcing, but complementary work with each other.

The strategy should include product analytics, customer segmentation, key messages, customer engagement communication plan, budget strategy, and resources. These are the minimum components. Here you need to be prepared for the fact that the launch plan can change and even a lot.

We had a case where the client developed a TV campaign to gather the first users of the product, but in the process, it turned out that the test group was larger than the client expected. So they refused to a TV advertising and changed the promotion strategy.

Product analytics

At this stage, I don't recommend getting into a global project before tracking every action of your users. But basic metrics need to be tracked.

  1. First of all, one or two key product conversion metrics. For example, it could be registrations or filling out a lead form.
  2. The second metric could be all kinds of engagement metrics, for example, if your product has content and you're converting customers with it - measure its engagement.
  3. Third, external customer engagement metrics. How much does one client cost, how much does traffic costs?
There are a lot of tools that help to track or provide this kind of analytics. From Google analytics to Apps Flayer. At this stage, I recommend diving deep into this block on your own and involving external resources only for configuration, installation, and training.

First traffic

This is probably the most difficult component and only because it requires the most resources. Time, if you attract existing customers with closed communication, or money if it is paid traffic: Google, Facebook, or TikTok. Either way, it should be a test and a small group of first clients.

Remember that at first, your main goal is not minimizing customer acquisition cost. At first, your main goal is to understand if it’s your client. Do they need your product? Do your product solves their problems, etc? 

Continuous customer development

This is where the fun part comes in. Usually, at this stage teams face a lack of resources and a huge backlog of tasks. This is when you forget about your clients, their tasks, and pains, and think only about growth. Growth without continuous research on your clients is impossible.

To avoid falling into this trap, you need to establish a process for such research within the team - who does it, what are the metrics and performance indicators. 

Important: getting to know your clients, unlike many of the steps above, cannot be outsourced.

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